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The effect of a view to the surroundings and microclimate variables on use of a loafing area in housed dairy cattle

By Marie J. Haskell, Katarzyna Masłowska, David J. Bell, David J. Roberts, Fritha M. Langford

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Abstract

There is concern that cows that are continuously housed year-round may lack the opportunity to express a full range of natural behaviour. Providing these cows with a loafing or exercise area may allow them the space to express a greater behavioural repertoire. Little is known about the factors that affect the use of loafing areas. The aim of this study was to determine whether access to a view across the surroundings, dominance rank of the cow or weather conditions influence the use of a loafing area. Four groups of cows were housed in a cubicle house with an adjoining roofed, concrete floored loafing area, with a view out across adjacent fields. Each group was tested over a period of 16 days with 2 four-day periods in which the cows could see the area beyond the loafing area and two periods when they could not. The dominance rank of each cow was assessed prior to the testing period and weather and climatic conditions were recorded regularly throughout the observation period. Overall, cows spent 14% of the observation period in the loafing area. Low-ranking cows were more often in the loafing area during feeding times than high-ranking cows, with all cows using the area most once feeding was completed (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 147
Issue 1
Pages 28-33
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.04.016
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Tags
  1. Cattle
  2. Grazing
  3. Housing
  4. welfare